Sixty-seat cap on operations at Komaki airport means airline must reconsider fleet plans

Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) has postponed the selection of a 70-seat regional jet due to a potential new restriction on operations at Nagoya's Komaki airport.

The carrier was expected to order between 12 and 15 Bombardier CRJ700s or Embraer 170s this quarter. But Embraer managing director for Asia-Pacific Bruce Peddle says he does not now expect a selection at least until the fourth quarter.

"They have to go back and look at the fleet plan with Komaki restricted to 60 seats," Peddle says.

He says ANA had planned to base many of the new 70-seaters at Komaki, but the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) has put a future restriction on the airport, capping operations at 60 seats. ANA could appeal to the JCAB and request an exemption with a specific aircraft type. But for now ANA is reviewing all its options in the light of the JCAB restriction and has delayed a decision on the CRJ700 or Embraer 170.

An airport known as the Central Japan International Airport is under construction 35km (21 miles) south of Nagoya on an offshore island in Ise Bay. It is due to open early in 2005 and has been designed to handle aircraft seating more than 60 passengers. After its opening, the existing Komaki airport, which is closer to the city centre, will handle domestic flights operated by aircraft with fewer than 60 seats.

ANA declines to comment on its regional plans, although it is known to be considering regional jet orders alongside a potential follow-on order with Bombardier for between six and eight Dash 8 Q400s.

Peddle says ANA continues to monitor the 170 programme, including the certification application, very closely. Earlier in June, Embraer pushed back 170 basic certification from August to November, as well as first delivery to launch customer Alitalia. Peddle says this delay should not affect ANA's decision and that the carrier remains interested in the 170 despite the potential certification hurdles associated with becoming the first Embraer operator in Japan, where a handful of CRJ200s are already operating.

Source: Flight International